What Assets Can I Keep in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy you may be wondering what assets you will be able to keep after the fact. Fortunately, our bankruptcy attorneys at Church and Korhonen, PC possess a comprehensive understanding of bankruptcy law in Michigan, and are ready to divulge all the details to you so that you can be informed and prepared for what’s to come.

According to Michigan’s Judicature Act of 1961, Act 236, Section 600.5451: “A debtor in bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code, 11 USC 101 to 1532, may exempt from property of the estate property that is exempt under federal law or, under 11 USC 522(b)(2), the following property:”


“Homestead” or actual property valued at up to $30,000 for individuals under the age of 65, and $45,000 for individuals who are either disabled or over the age of 65 – this exception can be claimed by spouses or children of deceased owners.

Personal Property

  • Apparel (with the exception of furs), family photos, burial plots and all burial rights, necessary health aids prescribed by a medical professional, “provisions and fuel” for at least six months, and “arms and accouterments” required by law.
  • Furniture, household appliances and goods, jewelry, books, and more valued at up to $3,000.
  • A reliable motorized vehicle valued at no more than $2,775. Pets and computers valued individually at no more than $500.
  • Any occupationally necessary tools, resources, or materials valued collectively at $2,000.
  • Seats, pews, or slips used in a home or place of worship valued at no more than $500.
  • Crops or farm animals and feed valued at up to $2,000.

Financial Assets

  • All retirement accounts and annuities, including Roth IRAs, and the payments from said accounts and annuities.
  • Money or benefits paid by a stock or mutual health, life, or casualty insurance company.

For more specific information on what assets you can keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including what constitutes as a “homestead” or certain exceptions to the exemptions, you may review the list of official exemptions at the Michigan Legislature. It is worth noting that due to inflation, the Michigan Department of Treasury adjusts the amounts of these exceptions every three years. For the most accurate figures, you can view the annual Economic Reports on the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website at any time.

Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze – Which is Right for You?

Everyone has surely experience the panic of feeling like their financial identity has been compromised. Whether it’s an actual account of theft or just a temporary oversight on your behalf, the feeling of dread and frustration remains the same if even for just a moment. Luckily there are different options like Fraud Alert and Credit Freezes that work to protect your accounts from fraud, theft, and more. But what exactly is the right option for you?

Fraud Alert

A Fraud Alert is a process that forces business to verify your identity before they can offer you any new credit. It can be especially helpful for those who think they are victims of identity theft, anyone who has misplaced their wallet or other PII, anyone who is a victim of a recent security breach, or for any other reason they may feel as though their accounts or information are no longer “safe.” A credit Fraud Alert will not prevent you from being able to do the things you would normally, but instead add a 90 day period of time in which security measures are tightened to ensure your credit integrity, and may include calling you to confirm your identity before you can take out any new credit. A police report can extend the Fraud Alert time to seven years. This is called an extended Fraud Alert. Fraud Alerts are free and as easy to get as calling up one of the three major credit-reporting agencies. For extended Fraud Alerts, you must also submit the police report of your identity theft to the respective agency.

Credit Freeze

A Credit Freeze is a much more intricate process in which no-one, including you, will be able to access or create new accounts in your name. You are given a unique pin or code that can be used to open new credit or access your credit reports should you ever need to. This option is for those who want the most secure solution to prevent against identity theft, security breaches, and more. A Credit Freeze will last as long as you need it to, is able to be temporarily lifted or removed at your discretion, though in some states a Credit Freeze will automatically expire after seven years. The cost to freeze your credit may vary from state to state, but in most cases a victim of identity theft will be able to do it for free, whereas non-victims may be required to pay up to $10 for every time you freeze or unfreeze your credit. For a Credit Freeze you will have to contact all three of the three major credit-reporting agencies through their respective “credit freeze portals.”
petition to file for bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: A True Debt Consolidation Option

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good option for people with steady income and high debt. It is sometimes called a “personal reorganization” or a “wage-earner bankruptcy”. It will allow you to pay all your necessary and reasonable living expenses like housing, transportation, clothing, food, education, personal

health, insurances, etc while satisfying your debt by paying a portion of the total amount owed over a period of time.

As soon as you file the Chapter 13 case, your creditors must stop all collection efforts including phone calls, lawsuits, garnishments and property seizures. If your home is in foreclosure, the foreclosure must stop. If your car is being repossessed, the repossession must also stop.

Chapter 13 will allow you to catch up on your overdue house payments while continuing your current house payments. If you owe a second mortgage, you may be able to “strip” (cancel) that mortgage depending on the facts of your case. You will be permitted to catch up on overdue car payments as well, while you make your current car payments under the plan.

Under Chapter 13, you do not need to give up or surrender your personal property and you can own more than one piece of real estate. It is a great option for a wage earner to reorganize their debt, get caught up on their bills and activate a plan to repay a portion of their debt over a set amount of time all while stopping creditors from initiating the original debt owed or initiating legal proceedings intended to garnish or seize property.

If you earn a good wage but are falling behind on your bills, call and speak to an Upper Peninsula Bankruptcy Lawyer at Church and Korhonen, PC. (906) 226-0001. There is no charge for the consultation. You will discuss your case with a Michigan licensed attorney who will advise if Chapter 13 is right for you. Your peace of mind is a phone call away.

Debts bankruptcy

Have a good income but need help to pay your bills? Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may help.

As a bankruptcy attorney, I frequently counsel people who have good wages but still cannot make the minimum payments on their credit cards and pay their living expenses.

Often, people have to choose between paying their mortgage or paying the minimum payments on their credit cards. By the time we speak, they feel as if they are running in quicksand; feeling like they are doing everything they can but still falling deeper and deeper into debt. After learning about their bankruptcy options, they often feel hopeful, realizing it is possible to consolidate their debts while keeping their home and other assets.

If an individual or couple makes a good living but can’t cover their reasonable living expenses and pay off their debt, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition may be their path to a fresh financial reality.

In a Chapter 13, the debtor is allowed to first pay all their necessary and reasonable living expenses, out of their take home pay. (Reasonable living expenses include mortgage or rent payments, car payments, food, clothing, prescription costs, utilities, cell phone, some recreational and charitable expenses, etc.)

Once these reasonable expenses are paid, any remaining money is called disposable income. It is this disposable income that goes towards paying down the person’s debt over a 3 to 5 year payment plan.

As soon as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, creditors cannot contact, sue or enforce a judgment against the debtor. Nor can they add additional interest, penalties or fines to the debt. In essence, the Chapter 13 caps the debt and allows the debtor a reasonable amount of time to pay down the debt while still being able to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Chapter 13 is a true and effective debt consolidation plan.

5 Reasons Married Couples Need a Fresh Financial Start with Bankruptcy

1. The couple lost a higher-paying job in the past five years.
2. Their household income was reduced.
3. During the period of reduced income, they relied on credit as a way to supplement the lost wages.
4. They now realize they are unable to increase their income to its previous level.
5. They are unable to repay the debt with their new, lower income.
Bankruptcy may be the couple’s best option for starting over financially.
If you have experienced this situation and want to explore your fresh start options, call Church & Korhonen, PC for a free, confidential initial consultation at (906) 226.0001 or fill out this form.

I’ve been sued in a debt collection case.

I’ve been sued in a debt collection case. What do I do?

If you have been sued for debt, time is ticking by and you must respond to the lawsuit or the other side will win a judgment against you. Once a judgment is entered the court may issue a writ to garnish or seize your wages or bank account.

Clicking the link below will take you to a legal toolbox that will help you respond to the lawsuit. Do not delay.

Click here.

Reasons to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Instead of Chapter 13

Filing for bankruptcy can be understandably unnerving, but knowing which type of bankruptcy you should file for can put your mind at ease. If you meet the required income limitations  and don’t mind potentially losing a little property, there are many reasons to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 13.

Advantages of Choosing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

  1. Clean Slate.  The entire purpose of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to give the debtor a fresh new start by eliminating dischargeable debt and making it easier to focus on other non-dischargeable debts, like student loans or child support. Once your dischargeable debt is gone, it’s gone. You get a clean slate to focus on your future.
  2. Property Retention.  Any property that you attain after 180 days from filing will not be included in your bankruptcy estate unless the property in question was inherited, part of a divorce settlement or decree, part of death benefits, or earnings from an existing life insurance policy.
  3. No Limits.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy guidelines do not enforce debt limits on potential filers, meaning you can file no matter how much debt you have.
  4. No Repayments.   With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, once your debt has been discharged you are no longer responsible for it. You will not have to make payments as part of a court-approved repayment plan like you would if you filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  5. Faster Discharges.  With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may see your debt discharged in as little as 90 days. Once you file, the court will issue the order. After your property has been appropriately distributed to the rightful unsecured creditors by your appointed trustee, your case will be closed.

Disadvantages of Choosing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

  • You must file as an individual.
  • You must meet specified debt limitation requirements in order to file, meaning any unsecured debt you have must never exceed $336,900 and any secured debt you have must never exceed $1,010,650.
  • You must repay creditors using a sanctioned 3-5 year repayment plan. You must also have sufficient income to make those payments every month. Secured creditors and priority debts must be paid in full while unsecured creditors should receive a total amount equal to that of what would have been received from the sale of property if a Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been filed.

If you are unsure of which type of bankruptcy you should file for or you would like more information on what it means to file for bankruptcy, we urge you to consider seeking professional bankruptcy advice from our trained bankruptcy attorneys at Church and Korhonen, PC. Call Church and Korhonen, PC, toll-free at 1.800.758.5611 or simply fill out the form in the sidebar to begin taking steps to a more sound financial future, greater peace of mind and a fresh start.

What You Need to Know Before You File for Bankruptcy

People facing bankruptcy are often confused about how they even got there in the first place, let alone what they need to do to get out. Fortunately, our kind bankruptcy lawyers at Church and Korhonen, PC have put together a trove of pertinent information regarding what you need to know before you file for bankruptcy to help guide you in the right direction. You may feel like there is no hope now, but there always is – all you need is a little help and support from someone who understands and cares.

Declare Everything

One of the biggest mistake consumers make when filing for bankruptcy is not declaring all of their debts to the bankruptcy court, attorney, or trustee, which makes sense since you can’t expect to be relieved of debt that you don’t formally claim. When filing for bankruptcy, you need to declare absolutely everything. Knowing how much of which types of debt you owe to who is the first step to finally realizing financial freedom.

File Correctly

Unlike trained bankruptcy lawyers, debtors are much more likely to make costly filing errors, including failing to file all the required documentation or meet federal bankruptcy criteria. These types of mistakes can significantly delay or even jeopardize your bankruptcy case, which is why if you are not 100% confident you can file correctly you need to reach out to qualified bankruptcy lawyers for legal assistance.

File Sooner

Note: filing sooner does not mean rushing through the process; it just means that you should not put off filing. Many people fear bankruptcy and will try to hold off as long as possible because they believe if they can just get that break they need, they can climb out of debt independently – but what they don’t understand is that bankruptcy is the break they need. Filing for bankruptcy sooner rather than later can ensure that you are able to start repairing your credit faster and can even result in the forbearance of certain monthly expenses associated with your debt, like medical bills or credit card payments. It can also protect you from collector harassment and wage garnishments with an automatic stay.

Final Thoughts?

The last thing you must know is before you file for bankruptcy, although it may fade from your credit history in 7 to 10 years, bankruptcy will remain on your record permanently – so filing without proper consultation is not advised. If, however, you’re struggling to feed your family and are tired of constantly dodging phone calls from debt collectors over bills you cannot pay, bankruptcy may be able to dramatically improve your life. To get advice on whether you should consider filing for bankruptcy or not, we encourage you to consult one of our insightful bankruptcy lawyers at Church and Korhonen, PC. Call Church and Korhonen, PC, toll-free at 1.800.758.5611 or simply fill out the form in the sidebar to begin taking steps to a more sound financial future, greater peace of mind and a fresh start.

It is Possible to Consolidate and Pay Off Your Debt with Chapter 13

Many people in a personal financial crisis want a workable way to resolve their money problems once and for all. They feel ashamed every time a creditor calls demanding an overdue payment. They want to hide when the sheri  knocks at their door to serve a lawsuit. Their stomachs churn every time they sit down to pay their bills. Escaping from the overwhelming guilt and hopelessness of their financial crisis seems impossible.

These folks know they owe the money and they want to pay it back. Unfortunately, they do not have the resources or knowledge that will allow them to permanently resolve their financial crisis.

Often, in desperation, these folks take on more debt trying to pay off the old debt. They use one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another credit card or use balance transfers as a way to shift the debt, incurring more debt in the form of balance transfer fees and additional interest rates. These maneuvers may buy time, but it doesn’t pay down debt and often it makes matters worse.

Sometimes, people fall prey to unscrupulous debt consolidation or debt forgiveness commercials they hear on the radio or TV. These advertisements suggest debt will be “forgiven” at no cost to the consumer. Or they suggest the debt can be reduced by debt negotiation. What the ads don’t say is that these are private, out of state businesses, which make money charging substantial administrative fees for the POSSIBILITY of negotiating or consolidating debts. These businesses don’t provide written guarantees for their work. And many of them do not deliver any real, helpful results.

If you are living in a financial crisis, investigate all your options. If you hear an ad promoting something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Research the company and the claims they are making. See how they have dealt with other people and whether they have been able to deliver on their promises of debt forgiveness or consolidation.

As you investigate your options, consider calling Upper Peninsula Bankruptcy Lawyers Church and Korhonen to discuss a Chapter 13. Many of our clients qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy which provides a livable and realistic plan to pay off debt within 3 to 5 years. And, best of all, the money used for your plan is your disposable income. Disposable income is the money left over AFTER you pay all your reasonable and necessary living expenses each month. It is possible to consolidate and pay off debt with Chapter 13.

Call Upper Peninsula Bankruptcy Lawyers to see if Chapter 13 will help you out of your personal financial crisis (906) 226-0001 or toll free (800) 758-5611.

Not all bankruptcy lawyers are created equal

People facing bankruptcy need a bankruptcy lawyer who is competent, trustworthy and friendly. Bankruptcy is a very stressful process and the lawyer representing the bankrupt client should not be adding more stress to the situation by being incompetent, untrustworthy or unpleasant.

Not all bankruptcy lawyers are created equal: some are excellent, others mediocre and some, downright terrible.

When considering bankruptcy, consumers should shop around. They should interview bankruptcy lawyers serving the US Bankruptcy Court in their region. The potential lawyer need not be located in the consumer’s hometown. Rather they may have offices close to the bankruptcy court where the consumer’s case will be filed.

The wise consumer should check out the lawyer’s reviews on line. They should also check if the lawyer is licensed and where. Finally, they should determine whether any grievances have been lodged against the lawyer under consideration.

Personal recommendations from previous clients or other attorneys are the highest recommendations a bankruptcy lawyer can achieve. Happy clients are the lawyer’s highest compliment.

If the consumer knows any family, friends or acquaintances who have  led bankruptcy, they should ask for recommendations.

When facing bankruptcy, consumers should not simply hire the first bankruptcy lawyer they encounter. Prudent consumers shop around and compare lawyer reviews, services and reputations.

Doing bankruptcy lawyer research before hiring one will likely save the consumer money, time and stress.

Any consumer living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and considering bankruptcy should call Upper Peninsula Bankruptcy Lawyers ; Church and Korhonen, PC.

Review what our clients have to say about us in Client Testimonials then call us for a Free Initial Consultation.

We invite all consumers to compare our services to other bankruptcy lawyers serving the US Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Michigan, Northern Division. They will not be disappointed.

(906) 226-0001